The unreality of causality

A causal relation is a relation where for a given effect there is an associated cause, and vice versa. The question is, is causality a property of the world? Does the world behave according to causal relations? We are going to sustain that it doesn’t. We are going to sustain that causality is part of our subjective mental interpretation of the world.

First of all, there are certain events in the physical world, like quantum mechanics and complex systems, that cannot be described in terms of causal relations. In quantum mechanics, it is impossible to determine the dynamic states of particles from previous states, and inversely, it is impossible to predict future states from known given ones. The best we can aim are probabilistic analysis. Complex systems on the other hand, are characterised by their non-linearity and irreducibility. This means that their behaviour has to be understood as a whole and cannot be reduced to causal relations among its constituting parts. It is important to clarify that in neither quantum mechanics or complex systems there is a break of causality. They simply cannot be explained in causal terms.

But we are going to sustain that even where we see a causal relations, causality is not an objective physical relation, but as a subjective interpretation. More precisely, causality is part of  a rationalisation of the world. It arises when we interpret change in a rational way. Reason is our faculty of reaching conclusions from given premises. When we form a rational interpretation of change, we construct a causal view where for every cause we find an effect, and vice versa. That is, sometimes we make of the cause our premise and of the effect our conclusion, and sometimes the other way round. Reason in turn, is not an attribute of nature but a human faculty. So, if causality comes from a rationalised interpretation of variation, then causality is not a physical property of the world but part of our subjective interpretation.

There are several important implications from the unreality of causality, like the fallacy of a deterministic view of the world (see the unreality of determinism), and the fallacy of a teleological view of the world.

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2 Responses to “The unreality of causality”

  1. The unreality of indeterminism « Philosophy of Nature Says:

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  2. Human subjectivity « Natural Philosophy Says:

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